TUC have sounded the alarm over the prospect of British companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security.
UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in the UK. The tiny chips, similar to those for pets, are implanted in the flesh between the thumb and forefinger. They enable people to open their front door, access their office or start their car with a wave of their hand, They can also use them to store medical data.
Another company, Biohax of Sweden, which also provides human chip implants, is reportedly in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.
The CBI has voiced concerns, with one CBI spokesperson saying that,
While technology is changing the way we work, this makes for distinctly uncomfortable reading. Firms should be concentrating on rather more immediate priorities and focusing on engaging their employees.
The TUC is worried that staff could be coerced into being microchipped. General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said:
We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy. Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers. There are obvious risks involved, and employers must not brush them aside, or pressure staff into being chipped.
BioTeq has also implanted microchips in employees of a bank testing the technology, and has shipped them to Spain, France, Germany, Japan and China. They cost between £70 and £260 per person.
Last year Wisconsin-based Three Square Market partnered with Biohax and became the first company in the US to microchip its employees, on a voluntary basis. KPMG, one of the big four accountancy firms, said it was not planning to microchip its employees and would under no circumstances consider doing so. Fellow accounting firms EY and PwC also said they would not consider microchipping their employees. Deloitte declined to comment.
Biohax has plans to open an office in London, according to its website. It claims 4,000 people have been microchipped, mostly in Sweden. It is working with the state-owned Swedish rail firm Statens Järnvägar, to allow its passengers to travel via chip implants rather than train tickets.